Good Afternoon everyone,
How are you today? I hope you’re all staying safe and that the fall is already bringing you nice reading experiences. I have been reading very good books lately and today I am hosting an author who is known to me for writing very funny and compelling stories, so you know what that means… Another one to the TBR. Luckily this is a novella so I may be able to read it soon. I am talking about J. Marie Croft, and she is here today to present to you a vignette especially written for From Pemberley to Milton. This vignette is written in the same tone of Play With Fire, her recently recently novella which is part of the Skirmish & Scandal Series from publisher Meryton Press. I hope you like it, and of course, I am curious to read your thoughts on the comments.
Thank you so much for visiting J. Marie, and thank you for organizing this tour Janet 🙂
Madness! It was nothing but madness from beginning to end, and Darcy was caught up in it.
What do occupants of Netherfield Park do on a dreary Saturday while the Bennet sisters are still in residence and they have nothing at all to do? They take a page from Mansfield Park, of course, and decide on a theatrical.
In the process of planning and performing the play, certain participants get more than a little carried away, especially Fitzwilliam Darcy where Elizabeth Bennet is concerned. There might even be a kiss…and a skirmish…leading to a duel.
No one involved in the play had set out with the intention of creating a scandal. None performing in the theatrical began with the aim of ending with blushing faces, or bruised bodies, or blemishes on their reputations.
Blame it on The Mésalliance.
You can find Play With Fire at:
and on Kindle Unlimited
Written especially for today’s post, Drink and Drivel is told, like Play with Fire itself, from Darcy’s point of view. Unlike the novella, however, this vignette was not edited by the eagle-eyed Ellen Pickels.
from Part II of Play with Fire: Assuming her sister’s hostess duties, Mrs. Hurst led the Bennet sisters and their aunt to the drawing room, leaving her husband, brother, and me to our port and prattle, the latter of which mostly centred on Miss Bingley’s conduct and, unfortunately, my comportment from earlier in the day.
Drink and Drivel
Bingley and Hurst, as might be expected, enjoyed a few laughs at my expense. Due to my atrocious behaviour during The Mésalliance, I was prepared for such and patiently endured the good-humoured raillery from my closest friend and his brother.
Soon, though, I will have an even closer companion—a wife! A kind, competent mistress and hostess for my homes, a charming partner on my arm at society events, a compassionate sister for Georgiana, a witty helpmeet during my days, a lover in our apartments at night, and a committed mother should we be blessed with children. I shall be fortunate to have Elizabeth in my life.
Roderick Hurst, on the other hand, while not a particularly good friend nor a particularly bad man, was—like his wife and sister-in-law—endured strictly for Bingley’s sake. Similar to others in my sphere, Hurst’s chief goal in life was pleasure, which, in his case, led to gluttony, sloth, and drunkenness.
Dissimilarly, Elizabeth was an admirable, active, useful sort of person, and I knew my staff and Pemberley’s tenants would esteem her. Lost in visions of our future felicity, I did not appreciate Hurst’s interruption.
“Now, Darcy, where is that fine brandy you brought with you? I say we break open the bottle in celebration, or commiseration, of your dwindling days as a bachelor.”
At my nod, a footman fetched the appropriate decanter from the sideboard, and the three of us switched from dainty port glasses to large rummers. To my disgust, Hurst then lit an oily, harsh-smelling cheroot and blew smoke rings across the dining room.
Watching those acrobatic circles dissipate into a looming, reeking haze, Bingley took a sip of the distilled spirit, savouring it as I had taught him. “Gentlemen,” he said, “what do you call a tumbler full of brandy?”
“A jolly good start to an evening, I would call it.” Hurst saluted me with his glass, downed its contents in two gulps, and reached for the stoppered, crystal container.
“You would call it that, Hurst. Darcy, what would you call a tumbler full of brandy?”
Warm. Fragrant. Delectable. Intoxicating. Fiery. Like Elizabeth. But I would never say such things aloud. Gently warming the bowl in my palm, I let the liquor deliver its aroma to my nose before the taste of it rolled around my tongue. “I suppose I would call a tumbler full of brandy aqua vitae…eau de vie…water of life.”
“No, gentlemen, you both are wrong.” Swirling the golden-brown liquid in the footed glass, my bright-eyed but dim-witted friend grinned. “A tumbler full of brandy is a drunken gymnast. Ha ha!”
Hurst snickered as I rolled my eyes.
While the jocularity continued, I longed to be with Elizabeth, sharing our own brand of banter. Checking my fob watch for the third time, I wondered what she was doing and saying in the other room. Is she, perchance, thinking well of me, or does she regret what happened today?
“…and I must drink spirits,” Hurst exclaimed, “because Louisa complains that all the ale I drink makes me fat.”
“Fat?” Bingley’s scoff of disbelief was ruined by an anticipatory gleam in his eyes. “No, brother, I know for a fact it makes you lean.”
Irretrievably addled by thoughts of Elizabeth, my brain allowed my lips to stupidly ask how drinking brandy could possibly make Hurst lean.
“Late last night,” said Bingley, “I saw him lean upon the wall.”
“Hah!” Hurst slapped the table a few times before blowing more noxious smoke fumes into the air. “Then I slid off the wall and injured my blasted forehead. Mrs. Nicholls told me to rub it with alcohol, but my brow is no better tonight.”
“That,” said Bingley, “is because you cannot get the glass any higher than your mouth!”
“Hah! True. And—Woe is me!—Louisa gripes about my late start to each day. But it cannot be helped, you know. While my wife advises me to get out of bed, sloth insists I lie still. Both sides must be given due consideration, and by the time I am done with contemplation, it is almost the dinner hour. Speaking of food… Do you suppose the womenfolk have sweetmeats in there?” He twitched his head towards the drawing room.
I, too, looked yearningly in that direction, my heartstrings giving a hard, sudden tug.
Finally, Bingley took pity on me, at which time manly drink and drivel were abandoned in favour of tea and trivialities with the ladies.
As I approached, I heard Elizabeth’s sweet voice.
“Yes, Mrs. Hurst, Pemberley must be magnificent, for I have heard your brother and sister proclaim it so.”
“La, Lizzy,” cried her vulgar aunt, “soon you shall see its splendour for yourself and be its mistress!”
“My future is yet uncertain, Aunt Philips. But this much is irrefutable… With a husband I loved and respected, I could be happy in a simple cottage. A tall, powerful gentleman like Mr. Darcy could hardly be comfortable in a tiny dwelling. Like a mighty oak, an estate owner has roots running deep in his homeland’s soil. The oak’s sheltering branches and foliage provide for many creatures, and its limbs need space to stretch and grow. Such an impressive tree—or such an impressive man—could be neither contained nor content within a humble abode.”
Ah, but I might be content there with you, Elizabeth.
Entering the drawing room and taking a seat beside her on the sofa, I felt as though I had come home.
J. Marie Croft is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter, are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF novella), and her short stories in six anthologies: Sun-Kissed, The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know, Rational Creatures, Yuletide, and Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, but can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.
Meryton Press is giving away one eBook of Play with Fire to one of my readers. The giveaway is international and all you have to do is leave a comment on this post until the 12th of October. The winner will be announced shortly after.
Good Luck Everyone!